It’s been another sunny day in the Val d’Hérens, so another walk was called for. This time we drove just a few minutes down the road to La Luette and followed the path which runs northwards on the east side of the valley. Along the way, it crosses the 133 metre Passerelle de la Grande Combe (suspension bridge), before we dropped down to the river at Cambioula and then back up the other side to Euseigne. The route was so dry and warm that we had grasshoppers and butterflies pinging and flitting about all around us.
The gallery below is another collaborative effort together with my daughter, Sarah and her boyfriend, Karl.
I know I’ve blogged about this walk before, (3 times in fact), but it’s such a great walk that when visitors arrive, it just has to be done, especially when the sun is shining and the sky is blue.
Thyon is about a 40 minute drive from our chalet. After a short, but sharp, climb, the ridge is clearly laid out in front of you and you can decide how far you’d like to go before turning back, via Les Gouilles (the ponds). The ridge itself gets progressively more challenging as you go, with the odd scramble here and there to attain each successive, and higher, peak. All the way along there are 360 degree views, with iconic landmarks, like the Jungfrau, the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, visible – as you can see from the pictures below.
With thanks to my daughter, Sarah, and her boyfriend, Karl, for being ‘super’ models !
A few weeks ago I mentioned that there was due to be an exhibition of photos of the Himalaya along the path which runs above Evolène, from La Giette to Lac d’Arbey. At the time, the full set of photos had not been assembled, so today my daughter, Sarah, her boyfriend Karl and I went to check them out. It’s a fabulous idea to encourage walkers and we passed many people along the path.
Between the three of us we took many photos and I’ve put together a selection of them below.
Although my preference is to hike up high, to see the views from the top of the mountains, I like to find some less energetic alternatives for any guests who prefer to take things a bit easier. So today I tried a new route along an ancient watercourse known as the Bisse de Fan. I’m not sure if it was due to the recent warm weather, but today it was as dry as a bone.
After a short climb away from the road just beyond Euseigne, the path is as good as flat all the way to the village of Vex (pronounced Vay). As always it seems, I took some photographs of some flowers that I could not identify. Though I did read in my book that the Carthusian Pink, which is quite common in our valley, is classed as ‘rather rare (very rare in northern alpine ranges)’. See last picture.
To quote the official Valais website:
“Bisses are the historic irrigation channels of the Valais. A bisse is an open ditch delivering priceless water from mountain streams – often by daring routes – to arid pastures and fields, vineyards and orchards. Many bisses are still in use today and so are carefully maintained. Numerous trails accompany these historic watercourses, inviting visitors to varied hikes on historic trails.”
By happy coincidence this picture shows the route I took the other day, over the Pas de Lovégno (R) and the Col de Cou (L)
One of the joys of letting out your property is that you get to meet some wonderful people. I think it’s true to say that all of our guests over the past few years have been a joy to host. This is particularly true though when you get young children running around, clearly enjoying themselves. And let’s face, it there’s nothing better than seeing happy children.
For the past few days we’ve had the pleasure of the company of Megan and her friend Carole and their children. The eldest, Amelia, helped me to select the photos for my blog yesterday, which seemes to have gone down well.
After they had packed up and departed to walk to the Ferpècle glacier, I discovered that they had left a few things behind. So I decided to take my mountain bike for a spin to hand them back. Thankfully, I met them coming down as I struggled up the hill. As we said our goodbyes, I promised Amelia that I’d take some pictures and post another blog, just for them (and you followers of course ).
I posted something about our village ‘Fête de la Mi-été’ last year, but the thing about annual festivals is that they tend to recur… in this case every 15th August. So, to make this post even more interesting than last year, (as if that were possible), I’ve included some pictures of the vintage car procession, which took place this morning. Any petrolheads out there will be green with envy…
I was particularly pleased to see a number of British vehicles, including an Alvis (which I’ve never even heard of before*), a Morgan and my absolute favourite, a green E type Jaguar. (If I ever won the lottery, I’d buy one of those !) There was also a fabulous looking Ford – which I think must have been from 1929 (judging by the number on the spare wheel at the back).
*It seems Alvis stopped making cars in 1965, after they were taken over by Rover… (I think that says it all about British car manufacturing).
In the afternoon there was the usual parade of floats displaying some of the traditional arts and crafts. Plus, it wasn’t raining this year!
I loved these guys – posing like the spotlights on the front !
Seeing those Valaisan Blacknose sheep the other day reminded me of the first time that I ever encountered them, which was at an event that takes place every year at the Gemmipass, near Leukerbad. Essentially, 100’s of sheep are herded up to the Gemmipass in July, to graze on the upper pastures during the summer, then led back down again around mid-September. Nothing particularly amazing about that I hear you say… until you look at the path…
When you arrive at Leukerbad, you are faced with a huge wall of rock (pic 1). Indeed, the longest via ferrata in Switzerland goes up from Leukerbad, but that’s another story. Looking up, you would not believe that a human could climb up that rock face, let alone a flock of sheep. But sure enough, they do, along a path that has to be seen to be believed (pic 8).
Luckily there is a cable car to take you to the top, which gives you the best view of the path. So, even if you don’t go to watch the sheep descend, as we did, the path itself and the magnificent views from the restaurant at the top are well worth seeing.
For walkers/runners – from the cable car station, the path climbs around 1,150 metres (3,800 ft) in just over 3.5 k (2 miles). If you like a challenge, I’m told that if you can get to the top station in under an hour, you can get a free ride back down on the cable car. (My nephew, Peter, and I did it a couple of years ago and it took us around one and a half hours of almost solid hiking, so you’ll need to be very fit).
With temperatures soaring into the mid-20’s (C or 70’s F) over the next few days, today was not a day for running. Some form of exercise was needed though, so I set out to do a completely new walk from Trogne, over the Pas de Lovégno and into the Val de Réchy, returning via the Col de Cou. This is an area Jude and I had seen many times while skiing in Nax, but it looked completely different today in the summer sunshine.
I was pleasantly surprised to spot a new buttefly (for me anyway – see pic 11), quite a rare plant (if my identification is correct – see pic no. 15) and some cute looking Valaisan Blacknose sheep (pics 19 and 20). The buvette also came in handy for a much needed refreshment.
I also met and chatted to two lovely Swiss couples from Yverdon-les-Bain. I met them on the ascent (they’re almost visible on pics 5 and 6) and also during the descent.
For the past week, the weather has been quite warm in central Europe. This has brought out the butterflies and other bugs in huge numbers. My walk to the Col du Torrent (@2,918 m or 9,573 ft) last week was therefore interrupted quite frequently while I snapped away. The sheer variety of shapes, sizes and colours is simply amazing, but I couldn’t find the precise names of them all I’m afraid.
I also discovered (on www.reference.com) that a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope (or a swarm, but I prefer the former). I like to inform and educate.
When I entered the Ascona-Locarno marathon (which is in October), I thought it would be good to have an interim race to check on my training progress. Little did I know then that my training would be very spasmodic (indeed, almost non-existent), so the Thyon-Dixence race became a real challenge in itself.
At 16k (10 miles) it’s not long, but the route ascends 700 metres (2,300 ft) over tracks and trails, making it equivalent to at least 23 k (or a little over 14 miles).
By chance, Jude’s sister Charlotte was coming over for the weekend, so she also entered the race. We were together for almost 200 metres before she disappeared into the distance, finishing in 2h 22m 31s, while I plodded in a little bit behind in 2h 28m 14s.
Now, I don’t normally run with my camera at all, but today it and I were firmly joined at the wrist. Well, I needed a good excuse to stop and catch my breath and I knew you, dear readers, would be disappointed not to see some photos of this wonderful race… The things I do for you !